From the Gulf News of Bahrain comes a report on the woes besetting publishers of Arabic books, especially novels. As elsewhere, the rise of DVDs, video games, and other electronic entertainments has lured some former recreational readers away to other sedentary leisure activities. But the trend seems to be particularly acute, when it comes to the Arabs. Some startling numbers:
—book production in Arab countries was only 1.1 per cent of world production, although Arabs constitute 5 per cent of the world's population.
—In 1996, Arab countries produced 1,945 literary and artistic books, which represents 0.8 per cent of international production
—With print runs of books ranging for the average novel between 1,000 and 3,000 copies, a book that sells 5,000 copies is considered a bestseller
Although the Arabic—speaking world has a large and growing population, its literary culture is in crisis. Illiteracy is obviously a huge problem, but the malaise would seem to go deeper.
Hat tip: Eric Schwappach
Thomas Lifson 10 19 05